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Inside Politics

DNC Prepares to Launch `Soft Money' Ads; GOP Says Gore Breaking Pledge

Aired June 6, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: The Democrats prepare to launch the first volley in the soft money ad wars, with Republicans ready to fire back. Plus, will the soft money battle help or hurt the presidential hopefuls? We'll talk with party chairs Joe Andrew and Jim Nicholson.



WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The New Jersey Democratic campaign is the closest thing in politics to nuclear war.


WOODRUFF: Our Bill Schneider looks at the New Jersey Senate battle as voters decide which candidate will be left standing.

ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS, with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Bernie is off this week.

On the day that the presidential primary season officially comes to an end, there is word that the general election air war is about to begin. This week, the Democratic National Committee plans to kick off a massive soft money ad campaign designed to reintroduce Vice President Al Gore to the American public and to try to reframe the political debate. Anticipating all this, the political parties have been raising record amounts of money.

CNN's Chris Black has details, and she joins us now live -- Chris.


CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Within days, the Democratic National Committee plans to air millions of dollars worth of ads, the first shot in what promises to be the biggest advertising air war ever by political parties in a presidential election year.

CNN has learned the Democratic Party will begin running issue ads in key states in the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest and the South later this week. The ads will highlight items from the Democratic agenda: like Social Security, prescription drug coverage for seniors, gun control and HMO reform. Democratic officials say the ads are intended to offset anti-Gore ads financed by Republican-oriented groups.

JOE ANDREW, DNC NATIONAL CHAIRMAN: No matter what kind of dollars we spend, no matter where we spend it, it is going to be overwhelmed by Republican-oriented stealth campaigns all across this country. It'll be negative, it'll be secret, and that we don't know who's going to fund them.

BLACK: Republicans say Gore is breaking a pledge. Gore challenged Bush to agree to a soft-money ban in an e-mail last March, writing "I will take the first step by requesting the Democratic National Committee not to run any issue ads paid for by soft money unless and until the Republican Party uses money for advertising."

But Gore says groups sympathetic to the Republicans are taking advantage of a loophole to secretly finance political ads, like this attack ad aired in March in California.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says he's for campaign finance reform, but held an illegal fund-raiser at a Buddhist temple.




BLACK: Republican officials say they have no control over these independent groups. But the Democrats are using a Republican as their expert witness: unsuccessful GOP presidential candidate John McCain, who filed a complaint about attack ads financed by supporters of Governor Bush.

McCain says the bipartisan air war was inevitable.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It was clear they were both going to use them; the question was who was going to use it first. The vice president said he wouldn't use his first. But the fact is that we knew that unless we had campaign finance reform that both sides would expend these monies unaccounted for, undisclosed at an all-time record high.


BLACK: Tomorrow Democratic lawmakers will appear with Democratic Party officials to announce the start of this ad campaign. Their presence is intended to send a not-so-subtle reminder that it is Republicans who are opposing a soft-money ban here on Capitol Hill -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Chris Black at the Capitol, thanks. George W. Bush traveled to Augusta, Georgia today to observe the 56th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. CNN's Jonathan Karl has Bush's reaction to the Democrats soft money ad campaign plans.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To our next president, the honorable George W. Bush.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bush campaign strategists say they are prepared for an immediate response to the Democratic National Committee's expected ad campaign on behalf of Al Gore. As one adviser said, "We will not let Al Gore dominate the airwaves."

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you think he was serious about saying they're not going to spend soft money on his -- he meant that he was not going to spend any soft money on his behalf? Of course they are.

KARL: Step one in the Bush response is to hit Gore hard for allegedly breaking his pledge not to be the first to spend unregulated soft money. Campaign aides are directing reporters to an interview Gore did on CNN on March 15th, a day after making his pledge.


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I did yesterday was to call on the Democratic National Committee -- and they'll comply with this -- to not spend any of the so-called "soft money" on these issue ads unless and until the Republican Party does.


KARL: Bush denies Democratic charges that Republicans have already run their own soft money ads.

BUSH: It sounds like to me they are laying out a smoke screen to provide an excuse for Al Gore to break his promise.

KARL: Republican sources say the Republican National Committee is prepared to respond with a soft money-financed advertising blitz. Campaign strategists are tight-lipped about the content of their ads, but they say they expect the Democratic campaign to include attacks on Bush over Social Security. In a pre-emptive response, Bush used a D- Day tribute to veterans to assure seniors he will protect their benefits.

BUSH: Today, many members of this generation, veterans and non- veterans, count on Social Security. This is a solemn commitment, and despite the scare tactics of those in the political process, the scare tactics of my opponent for the race for the presidency, I will see to it that government keeps this bipartisan commitment to our greatest generation. (END VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: In a sharply worded statement just released, the Bush campaign says -- quote -- that if Al Gore goes through with these plans, if the DNC goes through with its plans for a soft money advertising blitz, that --quote -- "It's another reminder that the vice president does not hold any convictions that can't be easily changed." The statement then goes on to call on Gore to stop the ads, to direct the DNC to stop the ads, saying -- quote-- that Gore -- that the vice president should tell the DNC, "His word is more important than their ads" -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jonathan Karl, traveling with Governor Bush.

And joining us now, Republican Party Chairman Jim Nicholson, and Joe Andrew, who is the Democratic Party national chairman.

Joe Andrew, how do you respond to what the Bush people are saying, that it's now appearing that the vice president doesn't have any convictions that can't be changed?

JOE ANDREW, DNC NATIONAL CHAIRMAN: Well, what is just absolutely funny about this whole thing, is that even when you put up Al Gore's challenge on the chiron here on this show, we use the first sentence of it, CNN does, but not the second sentence, which says this challenge specifically applies to stealth groups, these 527s that are out there attacking Al Gore now just like they attacked John McCain and Steve Forbes during the primary.

The challenge was broken, as I said, the day after that Al Gore made it by the Republicans, because they've refused to simply ask Denny Hastert or Trent Lott to pass the legislation before Congress that would require disclosure of who is funding these stealth campaigns, and they've refused to ask the Republicans on the FEC, the Federal Election Commission, to rule on John McCain and Steve Forbes' complaints.

WOODRUFF: What about that, Jim Nicholson, that the Gore campaign, the Democrats are saying the reason the vice president's doing this is because of these independent ads that are anti-Gore and pro-Bush?

JIM NICHOLSON, RNC CHAIRMAN: Well, I agree with one thing Joe said, this is funny. I mean, it is almost laughable. It's also pathetic that the vice president thinks he has to reintroduce himself to the American people after 7 1/2 years of being the vice president.

But it's also an act of desperation. His campaign is faltering. He's getting a lot of criticism from within his party. The DNC has been getting a lot of pressure.

Last Sunday, George Stephanopoulos on ABC said, "I think Gore is going to have to go up on the air and reinvent himself." He's failing, he's losing in this campaign, and he's going to take a big hit for doing it. And today they announced they are going to do it. He clearly made a pledge not to do that, and he did it right here, Judy. In fact, Joe mentioned the last sentence. I will mention the last sentence of that interview -- you didn't say it.

Your interviewer here at CNN said: "Would you be willing to go one step further, Mr. Vice President, and ask the DNC to take the lead in this, regardless of what the Republicans do?" And Gore's response was "Sure."

WOODRUFF: What about that, Joe?

ANDREW: Well, Jim did exactly what I've always been accusing him of doing here. He said, "Joe mentioned the last sentence" and he went to an interview and not the last -- not the sentence of the challenge I just talked about. This is a constant shell game for Republicans, just trying to move things around. Here's the facts, Republicans...

NICHOLSON: Shell game! You're breaking a pledge, Joe.

ANDREW: Not in the least.

NICHOLSON: That's the game.

ANDREW: Not in the least.

NICHOLSON: It's clear, simple.

ANDREW: The challenge you refuse to accept -- I'll reach out my hand and say, we won't have soft money if you won't right now, Jim. Let's do it right here. We can end this battle right now.

NICHOLSON: You know what you're doing right now, is you're paying for the ploy that Gore tried to use on these ads. And you decided to break it.

ANDREW: It wasn't a ploy then and it's not a ploy now.

NICHOLSON: We have never -- we have not spent any money on soft ads, not a dime.

WOODRUFF: What about these independent groups, which again is what the Gore campaign, the Democrats are citing. They're saying it's hard for them to believe -- and this Joe Andrew said in a letter to you today -- that you didn't -- that the Gore -- that the Bush campaign wasn't at least aware that these independent groups, Pete Wilson groups, in California weren't running these?

NICHOLSON: That's another ploy, Judy.

ANDREW: Don't take my word. Take John McCain's word.

NICHOLSON: They know we had no control over these groups.-


ANDREW: ... John McCain's. NICHOLSON: It would be illegal for us, indeed, to try to control these groups any more than he can control NARAL and the Sierra Club, who have been running ads attacking Governor Bush.

WOODRUFF: That's a legitimate point, isn't it?

ANDREW: Everyone knows who the National Rifle Association is or the Chamber of Commerce...

NICHOLSON: They don't know who NARAL is, they don't know who the Sierra Club is?

ANDREW: ... or NARAL, or the Sierra Club is. They don't know who Shape the Debate is. They don't know...

NICHOLSON: They have a constitutional right to do this, Joe.

ANDREW: ... who these people are. And I'm saying we should pass legislation today to know who is funding all of the ads.

WOODRUFF: Jim Nicholson, what about John McCain's point, that everybody should stop doing this?

NICHOLSON: Well, first of all, Senator McCain's a good friend. I do want to correct one thing he said in that little clip you just showed there, is that soft money, when it is used, it is accountable, it is reported. Every dollar in and every dollar out is reported -- from whom it comes and how it's spent.

WOODRUFF: You just laughed?

ANDREW: Well, I'm very happy the Republicans are continuing to defend the use of soft money in this. I'm very happy they're continuing to dispute John McCain. And what you've got here is the real reformer disagreeing with the alleged reformer with results here in George W. Bush. It's a major dispute inside their party and it's going to keep independent voters, who are tired of this entire kind of shell game going on.

NICHOLSON: This is a clever deflection, Joe. This is about you breaking a pledge that Gore unilaterally made on his own and then reaffirmed it the next day here on the 15th of March -- and said regardless of what Republicans do, I want my party, you, the DNC to stick with...

ANDREW: He made a challenge. You refuse to accept it -- just like we're challenging you yet again today.

NICHOLSON: This is desperation. This is -- you're going to take a hit for this, and you know it. But things must be pretty bad.

ANDREW: No, I don't think so.

WOODRUFF: Is there anything that could be done. I think a lot of Americans are sitting out there thinking: Here we go again. Is there anything that could be done at this point to keep both parties from spending extraordinary, probably record-breaking amounts of money.


WOODRUFF: Let me just -- one a time.

NICHOLSON: We have not spent any money. We have not done this. And they're the ones who made this pledge, which turns out to be a phony pledge, And now they're going to break it. They're going to start this. We're not starting this. And we're not saying that we will do any of it.

ANDREW: What's new in this election cycle are these stealth campaigns that John McCain has said are coordinated and organized.

WOODRUFF: The so-called "independent ads"?

ANDREW: The independent ads -- we -- the vice president made a specific challenge to the Republican National Committee and to George W. Bush to stop this entire process.

WOODRUFF: But you just heard Jim Nicholson say there's nothing they can do about these groups.

ANDREW: Yes, there is.

NICHOLSON: And you know there's nothing you can do.

ANDREW: We can pass legislation -- there's legislation that's been introduced in the United States Senate, in the United States House of Representatives that would require disclosure. And that's what we're calling for: disclosure:

WOODRUFF: And would you recommend members of your party to support that legislation?

NICHOLSON: You know, these people -- NARAL and the Sierra Club have a constitutional right, I think, to exercise their free speech, and to make ads.

ANDREW: And what's wrong with disclosure? What's wrong with disclosure?

NICHOLSON: So does everybody else.

ANDREW: What's wrong with disclosure? Why not know who's funding these ads? Why not know -- we have no idea who's behind "Shape the Debate," these no-names they make up with. That's what Americans want to know -- is who are these people?

WOODRUFF: All right, gentlemen, we certainly had a vigorous debate here.

ANDREW: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Joe Andrew, Jim Nicholson.

NICHOLSON: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you both.

And now for another view on this, we turn to Larry Makinson. He's the executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics.

Larry Makinson, is Vice President Gore justified in launching this soft money campaign the DNC justified, given what's been going on by these independent groups?

LARRY MAKINSON, CENTER FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS: Well, you know, I think what has more to do with this than what pledge was made, what pledge was not made is the fact that we come today to the end of the primary season. We come to the period between the end of the primaries and the beginning of the -- conventions is the next step and then we go on to the general elections.

And there's so much money that's been collected by both sides that inertia is in control here. I can't imagine a scenario where the parties who have collected total of about $163 million in soft money so far this election cycle are going to say: We're not going to use this money. It was inevitable that those dollars are going to be used. It's inevitable. It's going to start the day after the primaries are done, and we as voters are going to be exposed to this throughout the election.

WOODRUFF: So when the Republicans say -- we just heard Jim Nicholson say, we're just doing this because -- or if we do it, it will only be because Vice President Gore is doing it first. What...

MAKINSON: I think they would do it no matter what happened. And I think they've got a point. I mean, I think both sides have a point here.

You listened to what Al Gore said. He said he was going to wait until the Republicans did it first. They haven't spent money. He's going first. OK.

WOODRUFF: Is there a distinction here between the soft money -- a real distinction between the soft money ads, hard money that the campaigns are spending, and these independent ads that are out there being paid for by groups many people don't know the origin of?

MAKINSON: Well, there's a technical distinction and I think it's something that goes above the heads of everybody watching this sort of thing. I mean, the reality is we're in the year of giving anonymously this year. I mean, there is a lot of money that would probably have gone to the parties in soft money that's being deflected to go to these so-called 527 groups because they don't report.

And Jim Nicholson is absolutely correct when he says, the one thing about soft money is at least you know where the money's coming from. With these new 527 committees, it's completely anonymous. And it's not just Americans that can do it as well. I mean, if Saddam Hussein wanted to come in with money, he could do it anonymously as well. WOODRUFF: People are agitated here. The parties -- people speaking for the political parties -- you're obviously -- your organization is somewhat agitated. But does the public really care? I mean, we have a campaign in New Jersey for the Senate where millions and millions -- record breaking amounts of money. Do the American voters care?

MAKINSON: I think the American voters don't know the details of it. They might not know who paid for the ad that they're being assaulted with. And they probably distrust all sides in this matter. And I think, probably everyone agrees there's just so much money in elections these days that's it's getting in the way of the candidates. It's getting in the way of messages. Candidates are upset because these outside groups are coming in and stepping on their own messages.

I mean, I think what it indicates is that the systems that were set in place after Watergate to make sure that money didn't absolutely control elections have totally broken down, and everyone's taking advantage of that this year.

WOODRUFF: But for this year, it's a done deal. I mean, there's no question what's going to happen in the year 2000.

MAKINSON: No question that it's too late to stop it. I can't even conceive of Congress doing anything right now to apply the brakes to something that's really running out of control. WOODRUFF: Despite the John McCain -- the McCain...

MAKINSON: Despite John McCain...


WOODRUFF: ... crusade and the rest of it?

MAKINSON: I think, what we're probably building up is a great dossier on why there probably will be some sort of action-taking after the 2000 elections to try to bring some kind of balance...


WOODRUFF: But isn't that what was said the last time?

MAKINSON: It's been said for 20 years. We still haven't got any kind of campaign finance reform. And as a result, the real law is being shaped by court decisions, not by actions of Congress. And that's how we -- that, plus IRS rules, are how we wound up in the situation we're in today -- where basically everything that was the worst abuses of '96 is back this year, anonymous and legal.

I don't think there's an end to it. I don't think it's good. It's like a forest fire no one can control.

WOODRUFF: All right, on that optimistic note, Larry Makinson, the Center for Responsive Politics. Thanks very much for being with us. And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, we'll take a closer look at those mysterious 527s.


WOODRUFF: As you've just been hearing, Democrats have criticized the spending of so-called "527 groups," which under IRS rules can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money without filing reports to the Federal Election Commission.

Well, joining us now from New York, David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting.

David, is there any evidence of 527 spending on ads that benefit the GOP?

DAVID PEELER, COMPETITIVE MEDIA REPORTING: Well, Judy, I think it would be helpful to really see what's kind of set this whole 527 concept in motion. You know, you remember back to the '96 campaign, when the AFL-CIO spent a tremendous amount of money trying to tie Newt Gingrich's Congress to anything that was a Republican: whether it was Dole, whether it was a congressman. That's what started this thing back in '96.

The business groups, principally trying to promote a Republican agenda, were caught flat-footed. And so they've kind of organized themselves under the 527 rule. And here's what they're doing.

You know, the Wiley brothers I think is probably the best example of what we've seen so far: $2.3 million in the primary process to report -- to support the Republicans for Clean Air. We've seen Pete Wilson's group shape the debate, spend $40,000 attacking Al Gore and calling him a hypocrite. We've seen the Republican Leadership Council -- or Coalition, spend $300,000.

We've seen groups like the Citizens for Better Medicare. While they're not really supporting a political agenda at this point, they're really supporting their own agenda, supporting the pharmaceutical industry.

It's clearly organized under the 527, and this is a new, very, very expensive, very, very well-supported group of activities.

WOODRUFF: But David, Republicans have countered the Democratic complaints about these 527s by pointing to groups like the Sierra Club and the AFL-CIO, who promote Democratic issues. What kind of spending do you see on the Democrats' behalf?

PEELER: Well, Judy, it's a fair point. If we look at the AFL- CIO, they spent $1.1 million. Granted this was for the China trade bill. But it's $1.1 million, and they have a history of spending the money.

The Sierra Club, which is organized under a 527 group, or has a group organized under 527, spent about $150,000. I can't tell you how much of that was under that specific proposal, but it's out there. Handgun Control, $100,000. NARAL spent $30,000 attacking George Bush's record on abortion.

So clearly, there is enough on both sides to go around.

WOODRUFF: How does all this spending, David, affect the election as we move closer to November?

PEELER: Well, two ways, Judy, I think importantly. In media terms, what -- in general advertising terms we call this clutter. There is a tremendous amount of messages out there in the marketplace that voters are going to have to sift through in order to get the message. It's going to cause the candidates to have to really be very tactical, very specific in the messages that they want to support. And I think at the end of the day, the group that's going to benefit the most from this is the television stations, because what's going to happen is that the rates for this time is going to go up during the September-October time period. So it's going to become a more expensive process for everyone as media time and inventory gets tight.

WOODRUFF: All right, David Peeler with Competitive Media Reporting. Thanks a lot.

PEELER: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Well, more on the subject of campaign fund raising now. Republican Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana, who chaired congressional hearings of the Democratic Party's 1996 fund-raising practices, today released two massive volumes of documents relating, or rather detailing the Justice Department's own investigation of the controversy. Burton released the memos over the objection of the Justice Department, who he said was trying to silence him.

Included among the documents is the memo from FBI Director Louis Freeh to Attorney General Janet Reno recommending the appointment of an independent counsel to handle the fund-raising investigation. In the memo, Freeh specifically addresses the fund-raising phone calls made by Vice President Gore from his White House office, citing -- quote -- "compelling evidence that the vice president was a very active, sophisticated fund-raiser who knew exactly what he was doing" -- end quote.

Reno declined to appoint an independent counsel on the matter. A Justice Department official told CNN that while the department objected to the release of the documents, they will show -- quote -- "The attorney general made all the right decisions" -- end quote.

And there is much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

Still to come...


KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Vice President Al Gore didn't throw any sand at his opponent, George W. Bush. Instead, he kept with his family-friendly theme.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: Kate Snow on the vice president's focus on children and not soft money during his playground stop in New York City.



WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The New Jersey Senate primary features a showdown between two well-known Democrats and four unknown Republican. It sounds like good news for the Democrats, until you find out why the Democrats are so well-known.


WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider on the pull-no-punches tone of the New Jersey Senate primary.

And later, looking back at the presidential primaries as the final votes are cast.


WOODRUFF: We'll have more of the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories.

Ray Lewis is reasserting his innocence. The NFL linebacker spoke to reporters this afternoon. He had just finished testifying against two men on trial for the January stabbing deaths of two other men outside an Atlanta night club.


RAY LEWIS, PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER: I was nothing in this whole case but a witness at the whole time, and what I just said today was to prove to the world that I've always been a witness. Everybody has their things to say, but you know, I have someone who's a higher authority, which is God, and that's who's always been on my side.

And I just want to say thank you for all my fans, to all my teammates, to everybody who supported me through all this. Now, I can get back to playing football and do what I do best.

Thank you.


WOODRUFF: Murder charges against Lewis were dropped yesterday. Lewis pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians move to the Washington area next week. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat today. She also held a second meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Albright says that Arafat will meet with President Clinton during his Washington stay. Mideast peace dominates White House talks between President Clinton and King Abdullah of Jordan. The king suggested both Israel and the Palestinians should be prepared to compromise. He and Mr. Clinton want the peace deal to address Jordan's financial burdens brought about by displaced refugees.

Veterans and World War II allies are commemorating the 56th anniversary of D-Day. It was on this day in 1944 allied forces invaded Europe to liberate it from the Nazis.

In New Orleans, about 10,000 veterans were on hand for the opening of the National D-Day Museum. The 70,000-square-foot building features artifacts, oral histories, and a rebuilt landing craft used in the Normandy Beach invasion.

There's much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. When we return, presidential candidate Al Gore's ambitious plan for improving child care.


WOODRUFF: As the Democratic Party prepares to launch its multimillion-dollar ad campaign promoting Vice President Al Gore, the candidate himself was in New York, making a pitch to families with children.

As CNN's Kate Snow reports, Gore proposed millions of federal dollars to improve the quality of child care and provide incentives to parents who choose to stay home.


SNOW (voice-over): Vice President Al Gore didn't throw any sand at his opponent, George W. Bush. Instead, he kept with his family- friendly theme, using an appearance at children's all-day school in New York to promote a new initiative aimed at improving the quality and affordability of child care.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What kind of value do we place on the children of this country? How important are they? I think that they're our future. That's kind of a cliche, but it's certainly true. And if we all believe it, we need to put our commitment and our money where our mouths are.

SNOW: Gore's proposal would pour $8 billion over 10 years into staff training for day care workers, improving health and safety standards, and promoting early reading programs at child-care centers.

(on camera): Some 13 million children spend all or part of their day in child care. Gore says that care is often inadequate. In some states, he says, it takes more training to be a hairdresser than a child care worker.

GORE: We do not presently place a high enough value on child care. You know, there are 21 states in our country that do not even require criminal background checks for the people who are employed in child care centers to make sure there are no abusers, to make sure that there are no people who really should never be working in a child care facility.

SNOW (voice-over): For parents, Gore is offering larger tax breaks totaling $30 billion over 10 years. Working parents who make less than $25,000 could receive up to $2,400 in a tax refund. Under his plan, even stay-at-home parents would get a small amount of tax relief.


ROSIE O'DONNELL, TALK SHOW HOST: You gave your fake Elmo to Steven? That's very nice of you.


SNOW: Talk show host Rosie O'Donnell was on hand to support the idea.

O'DONNELL: When people ask me often: How do you do it as, you know, a single person with three children? I do it because I'm a multimillionaire and it makes life just about trouble-free.


But when you've got three kids and two parents are working in order to pay the rent, it's a difficult, if not impossible thing, to get day care for your kids.

SNOW: Parents at the center Gore visited may not be struggling to pay for child care. Most can afford the more than $14,000-a-year tuitions typical of Manhattan. But they shared other concerns about quality day care, health care, and more parental leave. The vice president was happy to listen. Part of his new emphasis on family issues is driven by a political concern to be seen as more concerned and compassionate than his Texas rival.

Kate Snow, CNN, New York.


Gore got the vote of his former Democratic rival Bill Bradley in the New Jersey presidential primary today. Bradley took issue with Republicans who say he has failed to endorse Gore. He said he is giving Gore his full support and will campaign for him this fall.

Well, joining us now, Kate O'Beirne of "The National Review" and Alexis Simendinger of "The National Journal." Thank you, both.

Alexis to you first, this Gore tactic, strategy, whatever you want to call it, of criticizing Bush less, focusing on some issues, as he did today, child care -- is this effective for Gore?

ALEXIS SIMENDINGER, "NATIONAL JOURNAL": It's effective if you look at the last couple weeks of polling that shows that Gore is making a little bit of inroads against Governor Bush, and that pleases his campaign a lot. And there were lots of people in the Democratic Party, some very prominent, who were saying publicly that Vice President Gore should go to a more general election strategy -- let other people criticize Governor Bush and his policies -- and really appeal in a more centrist-sensitive way to voters, particularly women.

And your set-up piece talked a little bit about child care. That's an issue that women care a lot about. And political scientists tell you that women are not interested in attack politics, but they're much more interested in sort of the persuasive, feel-good, here's what I stand for, I'm an optimist, positive sort of campaigning.

WOODRUFF: Kate, is this smart politics on Gore's part?

KATE O'BEIRNE, "NATIONAL REVIEW": I think in the short term it is, Judy. I think he was willing to risk the criticism that here he goes again, reinventing himself again -- he'd rather that than months more of criticism for being negative and always on the attack and nasty. So I think he figures it's worth us chewing over which version of Al Gore we now are seeing. I guess it's new amiable Al.

But I think predict that attack Al will be back in September, because what these polls show is that the public has pretty much made up its mind about Al Gore. They know Al Gore. Now, they don't quite know Governor Bush. What they know like. And I think attack Al in the fall is going to have to create real doubts about Governor Bush.

WOODRUFF: Are -- should those polls be concerning to the Democrats?

SIMENDINGER: Obviously, but I think that Democrats are happy to be coming up, you know, moving up a little bit as we go into the summer doldrums of politics. That's a better place to be than falling backwards.

And if you look at where Governor Bush was last year, he was way ahead in the polls. So from their perspective, from the Democrats' perspective, Vice President gore has been able to pull his numbers up so that they're neck and neck. And that's, you know, from their perspective, that's not a bad place to be.

O'BEIRNE: And then the Republicans point out that even a year Al Gore has never broken 50 percent in the polls. I think there have been something like 180 polls, national polls over the past year and a half, never above 50, and only 49 once, which to them shows real weaknesses in Al Gore's appeal. And so -- and even in a couple of the outlier polls that are showing the gap narrowing, it seems to be Governor Bush slipping a little bit. Al Gore seems stuck around 43 or 44 percent in the polls.

WOODRUFF: The soft money talk that we spent so much of the program earlier today discussing, is this something that's going to hurt or help either party in the end? Is it just who spends the most is going to be helped? Is it as simple as that?

O'BEIRNE: Well, I think again it shows how anxious the Gore campaign is to jump start his reinvention by being willing to break what was an explicit pledge that he made here at CNN: I will not have the DNC spend this money on such ads unless and until the Republicans do, and the unless and until clause has not been met. But that's how anxious they are to get the new Al Gore before the public.

WOODRUFF: Is the money going to affect November?

SIMENDINGER: I don't think so. If you look at any discussion with voters, they say they don't like all the money in politics, but it is not a pressing issue when they come to make a choice.

O'BEIRNE: And the parties are pretty evenly matched.

WOODRUFF: Kate, New York, yesterday, Rick Lazio had hoped for the endorsement of the Independence Party? Is this something -- he didn't get it -- does this affect the outcome of that race?

O'BEIRNE: I don't think it will be all that important, Judy. Although everybody's anticipating a very close race and that line could be good for a couple of points, it's unclear to me, given the idiosyncratic nature of the party, that it wouldn't pull from both candidates. And I think that Hillary Clinton would have made such an issue about Pat Buchanan being at the head of the Independence line in New York that on balance it probably wouldn't have been worth it to Rick Lazio.


SIMENDINGER: And the nuance of this is that the Independence Party, the Reform Party of New York state, they were interested in having their own candidate on the ballot line. Rick Lazio is already going to be on the ballot line, and I don't think in the long run five months from now it's going to make a big, big difference, although of course for a Republican candidate who's coming a little bit from behind time-wise he certainly would have liked not to forfeit anything that he could have guessed..

O'BEIRNE: It's still more important, though, that Rick Lazio have the Conservative line in New York, and that he does have.

WOODRUFF: Over in New Jersey, Kate, the money -- we've been talking about it -- the national level, the state level, huge record amount of money being spent by Jon Corzine. Effect in November? We don't know the outcome, obviously, of today's primary yet, but...

O'BEIRNE: Voters, we've seen in the past, for example, tend not to like these candidates, these novice candidates who've never run for office before and decide to spend a whole lot of money trying to launch a candidacy to win an office. It, of course, wins over the party regulars. The Democratic Party has rallied to Jon Corzine, They love a candidate who has his own money. But my prediction would be that if Jim Florio were to lose, it has more to do with the fact that he raised taxes as governor, that cost him his re-election, than it does even with all of Corzine's money.

WOODRUFF: Quick last word. SIMENDINGER: I think that's obvious that if he's ahead in the polls, he's running against someone, Jim Florio, who has baggage of his own, his baggage is he has a lot of money, he's untested. But voters I don't think, in the end, are necessarily always persuaded that money is the eliminating factor. We'll see.

WOODRUFF: All right. Alexis Simendinger of "The National Journal," Kate O'Beirne, thank you very much.

O'BEIRNE: Thanks, Judy.

SIMENDINGER: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And when INSIDE POLITICS returns, Bill Schneider on the showdown being played out today in the New Jersey Democratic Senate primary.


WOODRUFF: A hotly contested primary battle is being waged at the ballot box in New Jersey today.

There are also primary races in Alabama, Iowa, South Dakota, Montana and New Mexico. But those pale in comparison to the money spent and the mud-slinging by the Democrats in the New Jersey U.S. Senate race.

Rain dampened voter turn-out in parts of the state, but it did not stop last-minute efforts by former Wall Street financier Jon Corzine or his rival, former Governor Jim Florio.

The spotlight is definitely on the Democrats in that New Jersey Senate primary and our Bill Schneider joins us now with a look at whether that may be a bad thing.

SCHNEIDER: You know, the New Jersey Senate primary today features a showdown between two well-known Democrats and four unknown Republicans. Sounds like good news for the Democrats, until you find out why the Democrats are so well-known.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The New Jersey Democratic campaign is the closest thing in politics to nuclear war. On one side you've got former Governor Jim Florio. After infuriating voters with a surprise tax hike, Florio got thrown out of office in 1993 and nearly destroyed the Democratic Party in his state.

On the other side, multimillionaire Wall Street whiz Jon Corzine. Corzine has no political experience. His views are so ultraliberal, they might make neighboring Senate candidate Hillary Clinton uneasy.

But he's spending $35 million on the campaign, a record for a Senate primary -- anywhere. What's Corzine spending the money on? Attack ads. He stages a strike on Florio's record.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember when Jim Florio was governor? A $2.8 billion tax increase, 280,000 lost jobs, 200,000 more people without health insurance.


SCHNEIDER: Florio counterstrikes at Corzine's business record.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FLORIO CAMPAIGN AD) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Corzine's own firm was forced to pay millions of dollars for raiding a billion dollars from an employees pension plan. That's our money. Pretty sleazy, huh?


SCHNEIDER: He scores a direct hit on Corzine's money.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Election day showed Jon Corzine that New Jersey is not for sale.


SCHNEIDER: The biggest skirmish: Social Security. First Florio hits Corzine.

JIM FLORIO (D), NEW JERSEY SENATE CANDIDATE: ... is that he wants to have $300 billion of the Social Security trust fund monies put into the stock market. I happen to think that's a colossally bad idea.

SCHNEIDER: Then Corzine's campaign discovers that Florio was quoted just a year ago in the New Jersey "Jewish News" favoring this same idea.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jim Florio misled the voters and raised our taxes. This year, Jim Florio is misleading the voters on Social Security.


SCHNEIDER: Florio's defenses go up.


FLORIO: ... the reporter indicated there may have been some misunderstanding by her. There's no quotes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHNEIDER: Really? While cleaning her house for Passover, the reporter finds an audiotape with the deadly quotes.


FLORIO: I have no difficulty with a relatively small, segmented portion of Social Security trust fund monies being put into equities, and we should put them in...


SCHNEIDER: Then the Florio campaign discovers that Corzine has hired private detectives to dig up dirt on him and his advisers,



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jon Corzine's campaign has sunk to a new low, using private detectives to spy on opponents.

Come on, Corzine.


SCHNEIDER: Now word's gotten out Corzine intends to spend $2 million for election day activities. In New Jersey, that's called "street money."

Back in 1993, GOP consultant Ed Rollins got in trouble for boasting that he had spent half a million dollars to get black voters in New Jersey to stay home.

The Florio campaign shouts "Mayday" and calls Corzine's spending an invitation for fraud and asks the Justice Department to monitor the Democratic primary.

New Jersey's major newspapers have endorsed Florio. Missile strike. But Corzine has a missile defense system, namely backing from the Democratic Party establishment. After all, Corzine's poured over $600,000 into state party organizations.


A poll a couple of weeks ago showed Corzine leading, but it also showed that most voters had never heard of any of the four candidates running for the GOP nomination. Now does that worry Republicans? Nope. They figure that after the Democrats nuclear devastation, they can just come in and pick up the pieces.

"We won't have to do a lot of opposition research," the state Republican chairman said. "They've already done it for us" --Judy.

WOODRUFF: Sure looks that way.

SCHNEIDER: Thirty-five million dollars. You can buy a lot of saltwater taffy with that money.

WOODRUFF: You sure can.

Bill Schneider, thanks.

And coming up next: presidential primaries. Remember South Carolina or New Hampshire? A long season comes to an end.


WOODRUFF: It all started way back in January in the cold and snow of Iowa and then New Hampshire. Today, the presidential primary season ends, with voting in New Jersey, Alabama, South Dakota New Mexico. Here now, a look back at what transpired.


ELIZABETH DOLE, FMR. PRESIDENT OF RED CROSS: Give my ringing endorsement to Governor George Bush, the next president of the United States.


BUSH: Tonight also marks the beginning of the end of the Clinton era.


BUSH: The harder you work the more money you get to keep under President George Bush.

GORE: I want to fight for your families. I want to fight for your communities.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Give government back. Take it away from the hands of the special interests.

BILL BRADLEY (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not going set for nickel-and-diming on gun control.

GARY BAUER (R), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm tired of us being played for suckers.

MALCOLM S. FORBES (R), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As the kids would say, I am pumped.

TIPPER GORE, WIFE OF AL GORE: My husband, Al Gore, the winner of the New Hampshire primary.


MCCAIN: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

(CHEERING) ALAN KEYES (R), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to talk to all those folks who listen to the words and the message of moral renewal, and said in their hearts, that's what I believe.

BAUER: Today I'm withdrawing from the contest for the Republican presidential nomination.

FORBES: We were nosed out by a landslide, but I have no regrets, and you shouldn't either.

BAUER: I am please to be here today to endorse John McCain.

MCCAIN: We are the party of Ronald Reagan, not of Pat Robertson. We are the party of Abraham Lincoln, not Bob Jones.

BUSH: You can't lead America to a better tomorrow by calling names and pointing fingers.

GORE: Why don't we get rid of these policies that have been the best we've ever had and go back to the policies that have been about the worst we ever had?

BUSH: That we the Republicans and like-minded independents are going determine the outcome of this election.

MCCAIN: Tell his sleazy Texas buddies to stop these negative ads, take your money back to Texas where it belongs.

GORE: We knew that Governor Bush was in the hip pocket of the special interests. Now we find out what a deep pocket that is.

GORE: It's amazing that the Vice President Gore is talking about campaign funding when he's the person who went to the Buddhist temple.

BRADLEY: They dot not have the right to buy our democracy.


BUSH: Tonight we have good news from sea to shining sea.

GORE: You ain't seen nothing yet.

BRADLEY: The vice president and I had a stiff competition, and he won. I congratulate him. He will be the nominee of the Democratic Party, and I will support hill in his bid to win the White House.

MCCAIN: I endorse Governor Bush. I endorse Governor Bush. I endorse gruff Governor Bush. I endorse Governor Bush. I endorse Governor Bush.



WOODRUFF: And how the months flew. That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff.

"WORLDVIEW" is next.



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